(AFP) – Aug 23, 2011
BEIJING — At least 15 people were killed when a blaze ripped through a dormitory building belonging to a ceramics factory in southern China early Tuesday, the local fire department said.
The fire engulfed a four-storey building of the Shengfeng Ceramics Factory in Foshan city, a manufacturing centre in the southern province of Guangdong, the local government said in a statement on its website.
"Fifteen people were killed, some were killed in the fire, others died after leaping from the building," a Foshan fire department worker, who did not give his name, told AFP. "An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way."
The government initially said 14 people were killed.
More than 100 firefighters were dispatched to fight the blaze, which took over three hours to extinguish, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The Economic Observer newspaper said two people were seriously injured when they leapt from the building and one later died in hospital.
The fire began in a fourth-floor dormitory for technicians and spread to the rest of the building, which also housed a sales exhibition hall, company offices and living quarters for company management, the paper said online.
Police have taken the factory's legal representative into custody, it added.
Deadly blazes are common in China and are typically blamed on lax observation and enforcement of fire-safety measures.
Anxious to quell public anger over repeated fire disasters, China's government routinely orders nationwide safety crackdowns after particularly deadly blazes, but such incidents continue to occur.
In April, 17 poor migrants died when a fire swept through an illegally constructed building in Beijing.
Last November, a fire engulfed a high-rise apartment building in Shanghai, leaving 58 people dead.
A preliminary investigation blamed that inferno on careless work by unlicensed welders who ignited nylon netting swathing the building, which was being renovated to improve energy efficiency.
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